How Love Can Inspire Digital Transformation
We need oxygen to breathe, but we need love to live. Otherwise, we’re nothing more than oxygen consuming zombies, right? Still, relationships take work — specifically, work centered around an openness to making connections and a willingness to create them. We’re talking about active listening and communication, being kind and having empathy for one another, and playing to each other’s strengths. After all, it’s about bonding through common ground and chemistry. At least that’s what relationship experts and love academics tell us. But what can love teach us about developing work relationships for successful digital transformation and adoption?
While finding love in the digital age has never been easier — given the dramatic increase in the options and choices available — we are additionally challenged by our need to find the right fit quickly, and by our conditioning for something to work immediately. We don’t accept waiting for internet access, our Uber, or our coffee, so why would we wait for a relationship to be deep and meaningful? We just swiped right — and that’s it. This speed, quality, and cost triangle applies just as much to love as it does to business. However, both additionally require effort, rely on trust, and only work if you’re willing to adapt to maintain them. What’s more, it never occurs to us to question why we want a relationship in the first place, or why we have such a sense of urgency surrounding the idea.
The same goes for digital transformation and adoption. Have you ever been in a situation where you do all the research to buy the right digital business products (ahem, our products), and you even find the right partner to get it implemented, you release it and… nobody is using it? It’s akin to a typical dating profile blunder — my profile picture is good. I took that selfie 43 times. Why isn’t anyone swiping right on me? Let’s walk through some profiles to find out.
Believing in your business
Enter Gerald Ratner. He’s the London businessman who succeeded in building a successful chain of jewelers during the 1980s. He was an innovative executive who became infamous in an otherwise staid industry. His secret? Gerald explained his strategy with statements such as, “Yeah, it’s not Cartier, but it looks good, so who cares?” He spoke the language of the people who wanted to be a part of this exclusivity but couldn’t afford it. And it worked. His customers bonded with him because he was one of them — he had the same values as they did.
Or did he? When he was asked how he could offer an impossibly low price for his cut-glass sherry decanters, Gerald said, “Because it’s total crap.” He sold a promise and an experience that — with this statement — he revealed he didn’t believe in. Customers stayed away in droves.
Gerald is the guy who has a really great profile picture and looks good on paper — hey, he even looks good in person — but beyond that, there’s no chemistry. Just when you think you could convince yourself of a second date, he tells you that he has a pregnant wife but he’s unhappy and he’s getting separated any day now. Needless to say, things with Gerald don’t work out.
Values that drive success
Enter next Howard Schultz, the former chief executive at Starbucks. Howard famously said, “I can’t imagine a day without coffee. I can’t imagine!” He believes that any enterprise can grow big without losing its passion and personality if it is driven by values and people. People gravitate and stay loyal to a brand that is honest and shares their values. He knows this.
Howard is the guy you wouldn’t have swiped right on, but when you meet him at a party, you find out that he is really interesting, passionate, and makes you laugh. So you think, “Why not?” And then after the first date you think, “You know what, this guy knows where he’s going, what the end goal is, and how to get there.” He’s not the guy you thought you’d end up with, but you do.
Picking the right wingman
Speaking of having a vision and a plan to get there, Adobe has devised a strategic framework that in many ways leverages these love lessons. The strategy has three pillars — Immersion, Innovation, and Realization. Let them act as your wingman.
Immersion asks if you’re ready to get back out there, and what you’re looking for in a new business relationship. Innovation wants to know the kinds of people you are looking to attract with your online dating profile, or, in this case, with your digitally transformed business. It makes sure you’re going to the right places and making the right connections. Realization then puts the digital transformation to work. It gets you the number, the first date, and ensures you get to the second date and many more thereafter.
When it’s time for a change
Not all relationships are obvious from the outset. Sometimes there is trial and error. And sometimes you have a specific vision of what you want but realize along the way that your vision needs to change for a greater chance at happiness. Those who are present, patient, and open to change, succeed. And those who aren’t may very well stay in relationships that last but aren’t as fulfilling.
Let’s talk about the Airbnb experiment. In 2009, Airbnb had a revenue of $200 per week when they realized a pattern — all of the pictures on their site were poor quality. So the founders traveled to New York, rented a camera, spent some time with customers listing properties, and replaced the amateur photography with beautiful, high-resolution pictures. A month later, their weekly revenue doubled to $400. It set the precedent for how Airbnb wanted to build its company culture — that you don’t have to solve problems in a scalable way. Just like with dating Howard, sometimes what doesn’t initially seem to be a good fit is actually what works.
Help for those who ask
Most of us understand the need to adapt and change, but we aren’t truly patient, willing, and open to do this. At some point, however, we have to make a conscious choice and act on it. For your business, let Adobe be your marriage guru.
Adobe Customer Solutions offers a range of digital performance solutions to customers. Work with us to design and implement the right programs to help you assess, transform, and manage workforce relationships. By adopting our solutions, we can help you gain unique and tangible insights into the digital skills and behavior of your team. Our four steps — diagnostic, orchestration, governance, and change management — help ensure operational excellence in keeping everyone invested and moving toward the common goal of digital transformation. This will be a healthy relationship that lasts.
Nirmal Merchant and Shiv Paul, digital experience strategists at Adobe, are contributing experts on both love and digital transformation. To learn more about investing in experience-driven businesses, visit Taking the Lead in the Era of Experiences.